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Sambisa Forest: Army dismisses 200 soldiers for cowardice

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As Obasanjo indicates Why It’s Taking Too Long to Crush Boko Haram

The Nigeria Army at the Rukuba Barracks in Jos, Plateau State, has dismissed about 200 soldiers from service for their failure to capture the Sambisa Forest, a notorious hideout for Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State.

They were dismissed for laxity and cowardice in the course of duty.

One of the affected soldiers, Aguloye Sunday, an indigene of Ondo State, who confirmed the dismissal to journalists in Jos, said they were arraigned on a two-count charge of “failure to perform military duty and disobedience to standing order.”

He, however, argued that they would seek redress in court as the charges pressed against him and his colleagues were “untrue, false and malicious.”

Denying the claim by the army authorities that the soldiers abandoned their duties and ran away, Mr Sunday explained that sufficient weapons were not provided for them to fight the terrorists and, therefore, they ran out of weapons.

He also said the weapons provided for the troops were obsolete.

According to him, “the bombs given to us were made in 1964; they were expired, so we could not use them.

“Each of us was given five bullets, not five rounds, to fire. While in the forest, our biggest weapon was to cover just a distance of 400 meters, but our enemy had aircraft weapons that could cover a distance of more than 1,000 metres, aside other dangerous weapons.

“We only retreated to our base and waited in vain for ammunition for three days.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian Army has said the figure being bandied was incorrect and that no dismissals were pre-planned by the Army High Command.

Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col. S. K. Usman, in a statement, said: “On disciplinary action being taken against some soldiers for cowardice and desertion in the face of enemies, especially as regards the fight against Boko Haram terrorists, most of the stories and figure being peddled are far from accurate.

“Disciplinary processes or trials are never done with prior intention to dismiss anyone in the Nigerian Army. The only intention is to dispense justice and even at that, due process is normally followed.”

In the mean time, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said it is taking a long time to crush  Boko Haram members because the military, which he alleged had high ranking officers who are corrupt, was also not equipped to deal with terrorists.

Obasanjo spoke on Tuesday night in a panel discussion on ‘Development and Security: Dealing with New Threats’  at  the ongoing 2015 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

He, however, expressed confidence that the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari will deal with the Boko Haram insurgency decisively.

Obasanjo was quick to add that Boko Haram will not be dealt with using the military alone but the government also has to resolve the issues of underdevelopment and poverty ravaging most part of the Northern region.

According to him, “The military was not adequately equipped to deal with terrorism  and there was corruption in the high ranks of the military. I believe Boko Haram will be dealt but it will not be dealt with only by military force because we have to deal with the big problems of underdevelopment and poverty. But if you don’t do that and you keep on hanging those problems, they will be suppressed for a while  and it will be a matter of years, then you will begin to have Boko Haram in one form or the other rearing its ugly head again.”

Also speaking, Chairperson, African Union, Mrs.  Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated that there was an urgent need to address the issues of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty across Africa.

She pointed out that with the level of unemployment in the continent, it is fast becoming explosive.

According to her, “Africa is full of young people. If we don’t invest in them, we’re sting on a time-bomb.”

Pointing out that, as it currently stands, countries and regions are tackling the issue of terrorism individually, Dlamini-Zuma called on governments to come together as one and solve the issue in a more holistic manner.

Earlier, at the opening ceremony, the outgoing AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, stated that over the last 10 years, the bank had committed $28 billion to infrastructure, of which $11 billion was dedicated to energy, $11 billion for transport, $4 billion for water and $2 billion for information and communications technology.

While saying those were significant amounts that almost double what the bank had done in the previous 40 years, in terms of Africa’s needs, he however lamented that  the gap remained large.

Given this scenario, Kaberuka noted that “going forward, two things would be pivotal: Innovation:  getting project ready and de-risking them to attract additional private capital, and further deregulation in the energy sector; including reform of energy subsidies, strengthening the balance sheets of the national off-takers and truly independent regulators.”

He expressed confidence that the bank would take the lead  in infrastructure, to show that Africa is ready for business.

The outgoing president paid glowing tributes to the founding fathers and staff of the organisation in its 50 years.

He said he had been able to learn a lot in the 10 years that he served as President of the Bank, noting that the bank’s return to Côte d’Ivoire from Tunisia in September 2014 should not be seen as a celebration, but a solemn event, and a time to scan the future.

Citing Nelson Mandela, he said: “After climbing a hill, one finds that there are many more higher hills to climb.”

Meanwhile, the 2015 Africa economic outlook has predicted that  the continent’s economies would  record robust growth in 2015 expanding by 4.5 per cent in 2015, and may reach 5 per cent in 2016, compared to 3.9 per cent registered in 2014 and 3.3 per cent globally.

This, the outlook noted, signaled robust growth despite ongoing global and regional headwinds, including depressed commodity prices and the lagged impact of the Ebola epidemic.

Falling global oil prices are also expected to support growth among net oil importers by boosting consumer demand and competitiveness and mitigating inflationary pressures.

Moreover, the report themed: ‘Regional Development and Spatial Inclusion’ showed that most African economies now boasts of much greater economic diversification – with a shift in the African economy, with agriculture, construction and services playing a bigger role than before.

This overall positive outlook is, however, overshadowed by the spillover effects of the deadly Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa, which have dampened the region’s prospects in the tourism, service and aviation sectors due to the perceived risk to exposure.

This is in addition to depressed commodity prices and uncertain global conditions, the consequences of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as domestic political uncertainties that could delay an expected return to pre-2008 levels of growth.

“African countries have shown considerable resilience in the face of global economic diversity. For future growth to be sustainable and transformative will require that its benefits are shared more equitably among the population and that governments continue to pursue policies that promote economic stability.”

Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President of AfDB, Steve Kayizzi Mugerwa, said.

The report is a joint publication by African Development Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

According to the report, total foreign investment in the continent is expected to reach $73.5 billion in 2015, targeting consumer markets in large urban centres.

Remittances from Africa’s diaspora have increased six-fold since 2000 and will reach $64.6 billion by the end of 2015. African sovereign borrowing, on the other hand, is rising rapidly, indicating increasing investor confidence, the report shows.

However, it cautioned that this new source of financing must be accompanied by macroeconomic prudence to ensure that sustainable debt levels are maintained.

Human development in Africa is improving, although indicators show that poverty remains widespread in both low- and middle-income countries.

“Inclusive and sustainable growth is a fundamental aspect of Africa’s post-2015 development agenda for economic and social transformation,” said Chief
Economist and Head of the Strategy and Analysis Team at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ayodele Odusola.

He added: “We need to invest in building economic opportunities, including at the local level. And especially those of young women and men who are the architects of tomorrow’s Africa.”

The report showed that economic gains had been uneven across regions and within countries and, despite high growth rates, are vulnerable to setbacks from health, environmental and social risks.

Specifically, the report showed that the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease had a severe impact on the populations and economies of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and their neighbours in West Africa, with the fight of these countries exacerbated by the uneven international response.

It underscored that the Ebola epidemic highlighted the inadequacy of social service delivery in many African countries, especially health services, and the fragility of institutional structures.

“An important lesson is that the enhancement of equity, social protection and timely responses to domestic disasters cannot be accomplished without strong and accountable domestic institutions,” the report also stated.

Although the level of social tensions and violence receded in 2014 in many parts of Africa, the consequences of war are still evident, with lingering conflicts in the Central African Republic, Libya, Nigeria and South Sudan. The impact on populations and livelihoods has been severe.

“There is an obvious and urgent need to foster more inclusive growth and broader political participation to reduce the deprivation that tends to stoke rebellions and conflicts,” the report said.

Vanguard With additional reports of Thisday

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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